VIU English professor Sonnet L’Abbé and Nanaimo author Kim Goldberg both have work included in the new anthology Refuse: CanLit in Ruins. (Photos submitted)

VIU English professor Sonnet L’Abbé and Nanaimo author Kim Goldberg both have work included in the new anthology Refuse: CanLit in Ruins. (Photos submitted)

Nanaimo poets appear in anthology critical of CanLit

Sonnet L’Abbé and Kim Goldberg to read at Refuse: CanLit in Ruins book launch March 3

Nanaimo author Kim Goldberg, VIU English professor Sonnet L’Abbé and 21 other writers from across Canada have had their work compiled in an anthology of poems and essays critical of the Canadian Literature establishment.

Goldberg said a series of recent events in the CanLit world, including famous writers coming to the defence of fired UBC professor Steven Galloway, author Joseph Boyden having his indigenous background challenged and writer Hal Niedzviecki’s call for an “appropriation prize,” were all galvanizing forces that resulted in the publication of Refuse: CanLit in Ruins.

“We have a situation where this literature has long been dominated by basically a white male establishment and many other marginalized writers are sort of rising up together in a synchronous way to say, ‘This isn’t acceptable. Either the institution has to expand or disappear so that all the voices can be heard,’” Goldberg said.

“What we understand as Canadian literature has a legacy of having been created and controlled by a select group of people,” L’Abbé said. “And this collection, this anthology challenges the way that literary scenes in general have reproduced old hierarchies.”

L’Abbé has three poems in the anthology that come from her own upcoming book of poetry. As someone who commonly writes about issues around appropriation, racialized experiences and experiences of sexual violence in relation to the Canadian national identity, she said her work fits Refuse’s mandate.

“One poem is about mansplaining and a response to a mansplainer. Another one is in the voice of a defensive white person who doesn’t want to call out racism and then the last one is about rapists who want to say ‘sorry’ and have everybody just be like ‘OK, you’re sorry.’”

Goldberg said her poem was directly inspired by the Galloway controversy. She said she was hearing the same things repeated on social media and this was her attempt to say something “that I hadn’t read 100 times before on Twitter in the last week.” Her piece is called Small Birds.

“I suppose the small birds in question are the generally unheard and ignored voices, whether it’s complainants about sexual harassment on campus or anything else,” she said.

Goldberg and L’Abbé will be reading their submissions and talking about the book along with Vancouver writer Jane Eaton Hamilton, another contributor, at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library on March 3.

Goldberg said she hopes to see attendees engage in discussion at the book launch, which she said is the “whole point” of Refuse. She said everybody is a reader and everybody is affected by literature.

“I hope that it contributes to conversations about power and representation more broadly,” L’Abbé said of the book.

“And that it helps people think about who gets to tell the stories that are amplified most loudly, who gets to tell the stories that shape our culture and who gets to define what ‘our culture’ even is.”

WHAT’S ON … Refuse: CanLit in Ruins book launch, featuring Kim Goldberg, Sonnet L’Abbé and Jane Eaton Hamilton, takes place at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library on Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Capt. Bryun Ashlie, left, and Lieut. Stu Kenning, of Nanaimo Fire Rescue, tackle fires burning in two shopping carts in St. George Ravine Park, Thursday afternoon. The cause of the fire, which destroyed both carts and their contents, is undetermined. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Shopping carts found burning in Nanaimo park

Firefighters douse flaming carts and contents on asphalt pathway

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a motorcyclist who refused to stop for police near the Nanaimo River Road and White Rapids Road intersection on April 10. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP seek ‘stunting’ motorcyclist, who fled from police

Rider spotted near intersection of Nanaimo River Road and White Rapids Road April 10

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on the property

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
Nanaimo sees fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

B.C. Centre for Disease Control reports 31 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Nanaimo from April 11-17

Island Health has issued an overdose advisory for Nanaimo. (Black Press Media file photo)
Overdose advisory issued for Nanaimo

Island Health warns of ‘toxic drug supply’ in Nanaimo, Victoria, the Comox Valley and Campbell River

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial: Victim left to conclude out-of-court settlement on the day he disappeared

Trial of Richard Alexander in death of John Dillon Brown continues in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria

Most Read